Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I attempted to make French macarons again this weekend. I did so once before, in June last year, but although I did get a couple of cookies out of it (and they had the little feet!) I wasn’t completely satisfied back then. They were too lumpy. So, I declared I would try to make them again soon. …And here we are, in September 2015, with my second attempt.
Well, my second and my third attempt, actually.
This is how they eventually turned out, but that was only after my first attempt of the weekend (the Saturday attempt) failed miserably.
I had set out to tackle these finicky little buggers optimistically on Saturday: I’d done my research, gathered all my ingredients, and cleaned all of my bowls and mixing equipment with lemon juice so as to get rid of any grease.
So then the process could actually start. I processed and sieved my ground almonds and powdered sugar, and I whipped a nice meringue. The internet had told me that the next part was the tricky part: mixing the batter. Overmixing will make your batter too runny, but undermixing isn’t good either – your batter will be too stiff.
Undermixing is fixable, of course, but overmixing isn’t. Guess which one I did?
Yep, I overmixed. I had my suspicions when I started spooning the batter into the piping bag, and they were confirmed the minute I started piping. The mixture was much too runny, and the potential macarons spread out completely.
This was the end result:
One big macaron. At least it has a foot, eh? I must have done something right. It was quite tasty, too, I must say. The part of it that actually came off the parchment paper, that is.
Conclusion: don’t overmix the batter. Also, my egg whites weren’t aged, so that might have had something to do with it as well.
I was pretty bummed out at this point, but I didn’t want to give up just yet, so I decided to try again the next day, with (slightly) aged egg whites this time. I paid very close attention to not overmixing the batter, and my macarons looked pretty close to perfect after piping them! (Perhaps ever so slightly undermixed this time.)
I let them rest for close to 40 minutes and then it was time to put them into the oven. The mixture was good this time – but this was the other point where it could all go wrong. If your oven’s too hot or heated unevenly, your macarons could end up without any feet, with cracked feet, with cracked shells, with hollow shells or they could start to brown, all according to my research.
This is how the second batch turned out:
The macarons that were closest to the back of the oven came out slightly cracked, and the shells were a teeny tiny bit hollow. Also, the macarons with the cracks are also the ones without any feet or with very small feet. I’ll definitely be using a free standing thermometer next time so I can be more sure of the temperature. I also need to remember to bake them longer than my instinct tells me to. I put this batch back into the oven two times…
In the end, though, I was pretty satisfied with how this second batch of macarons turned out. They’re not perfect, but they’re a lot better than the first batch and the ones I made over a year ago.
Most importantly, they were delicious. I filled them with lemon curd and forced them on my parents and a few friends and they all liked them!
I used the same recipe for these macarons as I did last time, which is this one, from Food Nouveau. However, I found another recipe from a professional pastry chef, who also made a post about macaron myths, in which she talks about how macarons are actually a lot less finicky than so many people make them out to be. She doesn’t age her egg whites and doesn’t let her macarons rest before putting them into the oven. Next time I’m going to make macarons, I’ll be using her recipe, to see if it can be as “easy” as she says.
I hope to make another batch of macarons soon (and not in December 2016…), because it was so much fun to try this again and I’m determined to master the art of French macarons some day… Practice makes perfect!